Billabong Clothing History

Billabong is recognized worldwide as a producer of surf, skate and snowboarding apparel, hardgoods and accessories. Initially focused on providing quality surfwear to Australian surfers, the company has expanded internationally, and sponsors many extreme board athletes and the events in which they compete. Through growth and various acquisitions, Billabong International has established itself as a key player in its market.


  1. The Billabong clothing company was founded in 1973 by Gordon Merchant of Australia. Initially he and his wife hand-cut surfing shorts at home and sold them to local surf shops. The shorts became favored among surfers due to their functionality and durability. Two years later they opened their first factory.
  2. Surf Culture

  3. During the company’s first two decades it was closely associated with surfculture. At about this time, surfing was gaining credence as. By 1984, Billabong was a sponsor for the World Final Surfing Contest held in Hawaii and attaining international recognition as a surfwear provider.
  4. Skate Culture

  5. As surf culture (and its associated image) was gaining in worldwide popularity, so too was the skate culture. Many surfers were also skateboarders, and Billabong began catering to skaters in the late 1980s. By the 1990s, Billabong was actively marketing skateboarding apparel and accessories.
  6. Snowboard Culture

  7. As board sports grew, crossover athletes became more common. Snowboarding eventually became as popular as surfing and skateboarding. In the early 1990s, Thin Air, a subsidiary of Billabong, began producing snowboarding apparel and accessories.
  8. Acquisitions

  9. During the 2000s, Billabong International made several key acquisitions, starting with Von Zipper in 2001. This was followed by Element in 2002. Other acquisitions include Kustom, Palmers Surf, Nixon, Xcel and Tigerlily. In June 2008, the company acquired Quiet Flight Surf Shops, DaKine and Sector 9.
  10. Sales

  11. In 1981, sales reached $1 million (AUD). By 1991, they had reached $110 million. At the end of the 2008 fiscal year, sales had reached $1.35 billion. Billabong products are licensed and sold in over 100 countries.
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